Essay: Voters Need to Return to Feminist Roots A new essay, reportedly circulated by Chelsea Clinton to friends, calls for women to be more critical of the media's portrayal of her mother, Hillary Clinton. The essay's author discusses why she thinks women need to get back to their feminist roots.
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Essay: Voters Need to Return to Feminist Roots

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Essay: Voters Need to Return to Feminist Roots

Essay: Voters Need to Return to Feminist Roots

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ALEX COHEN, host:

This is DAY TO DAY.

I'm Alex Cohen.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

First, readers we heard from earlier in the program wrote about gender in this presidential campaign. It's a topic in the news this week thanks to an email that's going around. Some people have received versions of the message designed to look as though they were sent by Chelsea Clinton. Senator Clinton's campaign will not comment on the authenticity.

ALEX COHEN, host:

The email urges readers to consider the role gender is playing in the presidential race, and it includes an essay by Robin Morgan. She's co-founder of the Women's Media Center.

The essay is called "Goodbye To All That (#2)." It's an update of a piece Morgan wrote in 1970. When I spoke with her earlier, she argued this presidential campaign proves that sexism is still alive and well in America.

Ms. ROBIN MORGAN (Women's Media Center): It's inherent and it's pervasive and it's all over. I mean, for example, when a sexist idiot screamed at Hillary, Iron my shirt, it was considered amusing. There was a lot of chuckling on all the airwaves. If a racist idiot had shouted, Shine my shoes, at Barack Obama, it would have inspired hours of air time and pages of newsprint analyzing what in fact would have been our national dishonor. Whether it's Carl Bernstein's disgust at her, quote, "thick ankles," whether it's the nutcracker doll with metal spikes between splayed thighs...

COHEN: And this is a nutcracker doll that's in the shape of Hillary - made to look to like Hillary Clinton.

Ms. MORGAN: That's correct. It's being sold in airports. If it were a tap-dancing black-face doll we would be righteously outraged. And yet people think this is amusing. The most intimately violent T-shirts in election history are being promulgated, including one with the - literally - the wife-murdering slogan If Only Hillary Had Married O.J. Instead.

Now, this is not just Hillary hating. This is not just Clinton hating. This is not funny. This is sociopathic woman-hating. If it were about Jews, we instantly, we'd recognize it as anti-Semitic propaganda; if about race, we would recognize it as Ku Klux Klan poison.

So one of the things the piece does is just ask: Where is our sense of outrage as citizens, voters, and Americans?

COHEN: This e-mail has spread very quickly. Do you have any idea of how it wound up making the rounds and if in fact this is truly originating with Hillary Clinton's daughter?

Ms. MORGAN: It didn't originate with Hillary Clinton's daughter. It was first posted on the Women's Media Center website - womensmediacenter.com - and then also from my Web site, robinmorgan.us. A mailing was sent out to, you know, maybe like 500 people, with the piece on it. And then it went viral. It just - it had a life of its own.

COHEN: One of the things I'd like to ask you about, I think many people would have no problem agreeing with the thought that some of these examples of the way that Hillary's been treated have been in poor taste. However, couldn't one also argue that all of the candidates, not just Hillary, have been the target of really vicious - sometimes untasteful - attacks?

Ms. MORGAN: No. There's a difference. There's a real difference, because the thing that is in fact being attacked is her gender. No one is daring to - unless there, you know, I mean I'm sure there are extreme far ultra-right racists attacking the fact that Obama is black, but mainstream media sure as hell ain't. And mainstream media is making jokes about the chromosome thing. Until Chris Matthews was forced to apologize by the Women's Media Center and Media Matters and a consortium of women's movement groups, his comment, his - just his little asides were staggering. No one is criticizing her on her policies. This is criticizing her on her gender.

COHEN: You wrote the original version of this essay almost 40 years ago, and a lot has changed then. And I sometimes get the sense that women of different generations have different understandings of where we've come in terms of feminism. Is there a generational gap in that sense?

Ms. MORGAN: No. I think there really isn't. I think it's been very misrepresented, and I think it's been very hyped. There are lots of mothers and daughters and husbands and wives who are split over this. But I can tell you that at least a quarter of the e-mails that I'm getting are from mother-daughter combos or from the daughter saying my mom sent me this and I had originally been for Hillary and then I switched and went over to Obama because there was a lot of peer pressure and all my friend said and I thought - and now this has been - one said - like a delicious slap at the head that made me remember who I am.

COHEN: Robin Morgan is co-founder of the Women's Media Center and author of the essay "Goodbye To All That (#2)."

Thank you very much.

Ms. MORGAN: Thank you. Bye.

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